We had our last book club meeting for 2017 today. Being the start of the school holidays in Singapore, kids of our book club members were invited as well. Which kid (or adults too for the matter) isn't fond of potatoes? Its a sure winner in any party or any gathering and in any form - shoestrings, hashbrowns, tater tots or curly fries. Fried, mashed, in a salad or in a casserole like what I made today.
This dish Hashbrown Casserole is also called Texas potatoes. I'm not too sure of its origin but if its called Cheesy Potatoes or Texas Potatoes, it still tastes divine and sinfully rich!
Ingredients (for 10 by 8 inch casserole - serves 6-8)
1 kg (2 pounds) frozen hashbrowns, thawed at room temperature (Farmland)
400ml (1pint) sour cream
1 can of cream of mushroom soup (Campbell)
2 cups of grated cheddar cheese
1 medium yellow, finely chopped
1/2 cup melted butter (or if you prefer something less sinful use canola oil)
4 cups of crushed cornflakes
Salt & Pepper
1) Preheat the oven to 180 deg C 0r 350 deg F. Break up the thawed hashbrowns into small pieces in a large mixing bowl. Add in the cheddar cheese, mushroom soup, sour cream and onion. I lightly fried my onion to give it more flavor. But you can do it without.
2) Mix them up till well incorporated. Tip it over into the casserole.
3) Heat a small pot and melt the butter. Then add in the crushed cornflakes. Mix well on low heat for 3-5 mins.
4) Evenly spread this crunchy cornflake topping on the prepared hashbrown mix in the casserole.
5) Bake for 40 mins till you see it all golden brown and sizzling on the sides. Enjoy with a simple garden salad and Tomato Herb Pasta perhaps?
An easy pudding that you can whip up under an hour and is low in calories and sugar. Full of tangy lemon and passionfruit goodness, it is sure to become a family favourite. As what my sister June said after a taste test 'it was so refreshing to the palate!'
Ingredients (yields 6 servings )
75gm melted butter
10 tbsps brown sugar
185ml skim milk
2 eggs, separated
1/4 cup lemon juice
50ml passionfruit pulp (about 2 passionfruits)
1 tsp lemon rind, finely grated
50gm self raising flour
Extra passionfruit pulp to serve
a few sprigs of mint leaves
6 large ramekins and a roasting pan
1) Preheat oven to 180deg C. Lightly grease the ramekins with butter. Set aside.
2) Place the melted butter,brown sugar,milk, egg yolks, lemon juice, passionfruitpulp, lemon rind and flour into a mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
3) Use electric beater to beat the egg whites till soft peaks form
4) Fold 1/3 of the egg white into the passionfruit mix and then the remaining egg white till well incoporated.
5) Divide the mix into the 6 prepared ramekins (I had space for only 4). Place them in a roasting pan and pour boiling water slowly to the pan till it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
6) Bake for 15 mins till its golden brown on top and the pudding slips away from the ramekin sides.
7) Top with more passionfruit and a small sprig of mint leave for a little bit of colour!
Cranberries and pumpkins are so synonymous with Thanksgiving, don't you think? I had cranberries to unload. Sure I can just gobble them up in a go but I thought I would rather use it in a batch of cookies and enjoy this delicious tart sweet fruits longer. The pretty colours of bright gorgeous green of the pistachios and deep magenta red of the cranberries are so attention-grabbing that you could use this colour combination during your Christmas food preparation as well. The dough can be prepared in advance and kept up to a month in the freezer. The night before you are gonna bake them, simply place them in the fridge section. The next day, cut the cookie dough log into slices and bake. As simple as that!
Ingredients (for 48 roughly 1.5inch cookies)
175gm butter, softened
80gm brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
220gm plain flour
75gm cranberries, chopped
50gm pistachios, chopped
1) Mix the softened butter with the vanilla essence and brown sugar granules, using a wooden spoon.
2) Add in the flour and give it another mix using the same wooden spoon.
3) Add in the cranberries and pisctachios now. You may have to get your hands all doughy and messy here. Use your fingers to incorporate everything well. Just look at these gorgeous colours!
4) Mix well and then separate the dough into two on a rolling board. At this point, switch on your oven to 180 deg C.
5) Roll each dough into logs. Cling wrap them and freeze the logs if you are going to use them later.
6) You can either just slice them into roughly irregular circular discs or if you want perfect circles or other designs, use cooker cutters. If the dough is too soft, place it in the freezer for 10 mins.
I used a scone cutter to cut out some almost perfect circular cookies. Roll out the dough on a floured surface and cut them out.
7) Place the cookies on a baking tray lined with baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 mins at the most.
8) Enjoy with a light tea because as we all know these yummy shortbread babies are not exactly that light!!
A twist to our regular banana cake with the substitution of half the salf raising flour with Almond flour. My banana cakes are very light as they are low in sugar and I only use canola oil. With this change, a slightly rich and moisture rich banana cake ensued. Try it to believe it!!
Ingredients (yields two 7 x 2 inch high cakes or one 7 x 4inch high cake )
4 over ripe bananas, mashed
3 eggs, at room temperature, beaten
130ml canola oil
125gm self raising flour
125gm almond flour
1 and 1/2 tsp baking soda
150gm caster sugar
25gm almond slivers and extra for the top
A super easy 5 minute salsa that requires only ingredients to be washed, cut and whizzed in a food processor. They all can be cut into roughly big pieces because they are all going to get chopped up small in the processor. I got the recipe for this delicious preservative free salsa from a fellow docent trainee Jane at National Museum of Singapore just yesterday. I made and served this today at a small gathering of friends and it was a SUPER HIT!
Ingredients (yields 2 cups)
1/2 medium red onion, cut big
2 medium tomatoes, cut into big pieces
1/2 green chilli, sliced
1 cup roughly chopped coriander leaves
A small piece of yellow capsicum, cut into chunks
10 pieces of pickled jalapeno
juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
1) Wash and cut everything big. Place it in a food processor with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
2) Whizz it for 3-5 secs only.
3) Check for seasonings and serve with nacho bowl, chips or dips.
Chocolate and bananas? I was sceptical at first. By itelf, chocolate or banana cakes are are quite delicious. But I wasn't sure about combining both. My doubts were erased when I took a bite of this cake. There is something about the mellow comfort of the sweetness of the bananas mixed with the deep dark chocolate intensity, which I hadn't discovered before.
This is one of those tantalizing decadent cakes which you would keep in the freezer for the longest of times to make it last longer and longer or to spread your guilt of having such a rich cake (so me). Of course if you are a glutton who would rather have the cake sitting in your tummy then in the freezer asap, then my previous statement won't apply. I learnt to make this Choc Ganache Banana Cake recently at a baking studio. I was interested to learn more about the creaming and piping aspect of the cakes but came away with a whole lot more!! Didn't last long when I brought home as both my girls are huge choc fans, especially the rich dark choc kind!
To get your hands on this huge yummy Channing Tatum of cakes, firstly, make the cakes according to my earlier post Basic Banana Cake http://www.americanmoments.net/quick--easy-vegetarian-recipes/basic-banana-cake. If I post those pics and instructions, this post will become too long. This post is just to show how to mix and get the right consistency of the ganache and decorating the banana cakes with it.
2 round 7 inch/8 inch banana cakes
500ml whipping cream
500gm choc buttons (55% cocoa)
1) Boil the whipping cream till you can see steam misting. Keep stirring so that it doesn't stick to the base and start burning.
2) Measure out the choc buttons and place them in a metal bowl.
3) Pour the steaming cream into this bowl.
4) Start mixing from the middle using small circles till you get a smooth shiny texture. All the chocs buttons must be melted and mixed well.
5) Put this bowl in the freezer for 30mins to thicken the ganache till its spreadable consistency. Like the consistency of Nutella.
6) Now start assembling the cake proper. Put the base of the cake onto the cake turntable. A turntable is essential as it helps in the smoothening of the ganache on the sides in a hasty fashion. On the base, drop a dollop of the ganache and spread it around into a small circle. This forms the glue to stick the banana cake to the cake base. Place one of the banana cake over this and press a little in the centre.
7) Spread the ganache all over this banana cake using a slightly elevated palette knife. If the ganache is still too thin, pop it back into the freezer for 5-10 mins. The ganache is this pic is too thin. I popped the cake into the fridge too harden.
8) Place the other banana cake over this ganache covered banana cake and spread more ganache over the whole cake. The consistency in the pics below are better for spreading.
9) Start coating the sides of the cake with ganache too. It was already in the evening by the time I reached this stage of the cake decorating and the natural light had decreased. That explains the difference in the colour of the ganache.
10) Use a plastic icing smoother for smoothening the side of the cake.
11) Place the little matte gold balls in a string along the top rim of the cake. Then, just toss more of these balls over the top randomly. I did a bit of piping at the inner edge of the cake, but it looks quite amateurish as I'm so new to piping.
12) Serve cold with a nice cup of plain English Breakfast Tea, my favourite!
Best way to use over ripe bananas? In a cake or bread loaf of course! The recipe below is an easy fool proof recipe for a very basic banana cake. Just involves whisking and mixing and baking! I will post about finessing this cake into a luxurious knee buckling pretty sinful Choc Ganache Banana Cake in the next post.
Ingredients (for two 8 inch or three 6 inch round cakes)
250gm self raising flour
1 and 1/2 tsp baking soda
150 gm caster sugar
4 over ripe bananas (roughly 480gm in weight with skin)
130gm/ml vegetable oil (canola/grapeseed/sunflower)
3 eggs, beaten
1) Preheat oven to 180 deg C fan mode. First peel and mash the bananas into a soggy mess. The bananas must be quite over ripe. The riper they are, the more fragrant and delicious the cake.
2) Into this, add the vegetable oil and beaten eggs. Whisk them together and set aside.
3) Sieve the flour and baking soda first and then add the sugar. Mix well.
4) Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients.
5) Prepare 2 of 8 inch springform baking tin. Line the tins with baking sheet. I was making a double layered choc ganache cake today which explains why I have two tins lined with baking sheets. If you are using this recipe as a single cake, just pour the whole banana batter mix into one baking tin and bake (baking tin is slighly longer though at 40 -45 mins). For two cakes, measure the whole amount of batter without the mixing bowl and then divide by 2. Pare the kitchen scale and then pour half of the amount into each tin. So for example, if the total amount of batter is 1060 gm, each baking tin should have 530gm of batter.
6) Bake at 180 deg C for 25-30 mins Fan mode.
7) Use a slighly angled palette knife to loosen it on the sides and then disengage the base of the springform tin. Tip the cake over and place it right side up on a wire rack to cool.
30 mins?? Impossible, you think? Yes, its possible. Using a kitchen equipment found in most Indian households. The one and only what we Indian cooks can't live without - the humble pressure cooker.
Pressure cookers are a godsend especially when we are short of time. Pressure cooking is the process of cooking food using water or any other liquid in a tightly sealed vessel called a pressure cooker. As the liquid boils, the trapped steam increases the internal pressure and allows the temperature to rise to a whopping 212 deg C! (See pic above) So, food is cooked so much faster and it saves time and energy. Almost any food that requires cooking in water can be cooked in a pressure cooker.
There are so many types of pressure cooker in the market. Cylindrical, pan shape, aluminium or non-stick base etc. The market is flooded. Purchase one based on your family needs.
30 min Vegetable Rice involved quick preparation and cooking. There I was wondering on a weekend afternoon at 12 noon what to cook for my family for lunch. I have seen many online videos about cooking our food in a pressure cooker and decided on this option, knowing the risk very well. Since its my first attempt, it can either become overcooked (too much water) and everyone will be having vegetable spiced porridge for lunch or worse undercooked (without enough water) and having carcinogenic burnt food instead. Not much of a choice I had at 12.15, didn't I? With a quick prayer I began....
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
1.5 cups Basmati Rice (mix of brown and white)
3 tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, chopped small
1 heaped tsp mix of ground ginger and garlic
1 green chilli, cut into 3
1 red chilli, cut into 3
2.5 tsps Veg Briyani spice powder (I used National Brand Veg Briyani Spice Powder)
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 cup of mixed frozen vegetables - peas, carrots, corns and french beans, thawed
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
1/3 cup of chopped mint and coriander leaves
2.5 cups water (split into 0.5 cup and 2 cups)
Salt per preference
200gm cubed cottage cheese (paneer cubes) - optional
Extra coriander leaves and a handful of roasted cashews for garnish
1) Firstly, wash and soak the Basmati rice for only 15 mins. Preparation of vegs will take up roughly 10 mins.
2) While the rice is soaking, heat the pressure cooker and fry the chopped onion, ginger garlic mix and both the chillies in oil for 5mins on medium high heat.
3) Add the Veg Briyani spice powder and fry for 2 mins.
4) Chopped tomatoes go in next. Stir often after adding them in, to prevent food from sticking to the base especially if you are using an aluminium pressure cooker. Fry for 3 mins.
5) After the tomatoes have cooked and turned mushy, add in the mixed vegs, coriander and mint leaves. Add 0.5 cup water and let the whole mix cook for 5 mins.
6) By now, the 15 mins would have been up. Drain the soaked rice and keep aside.
7) After the vegs have been cooking for 5 mins, add in the soaked drained rice.
8) Combine everything and add the cubed cottage cheese. I added these cubes for addition of protein. Its optional if you have boiled eggs and or other source of protein on the side. Do not add these cottage cheese cubes too early as they are very soft and will dissolve easily.
9) Add 2 cups of water and mix again.
10) Cover and cook on high heat. Once you get a first whistle, reduce fire to medium heat and wait for 2 whistles. Switch off the fire and let it cool down completely.
CAUTION - do not open the pressure cooker when it is still hot. The pressure inside is highly compressed and can be explosive. You can get badly hurt.
11) After it has cooled completely, open the lid and this is how it should look.
12) Enjoy scrumptious Vegetable Rice made under 30 mins!
Hummus can be made using any type of beans. This version using pre-cooked black beans yielded a unique earthy hummus which went well with flatbreads, vegetables and chips. Try it out with kidney beans, cannelini beans or pinto beans. Each will give a different take on the classic chickpea hummus.
Ingredients (yields 2 cups)
1 can of Black Beans (15oz or 400gm)
2 tbsp tahini
3/4 cup EVOO
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove
1/3 green bell pepper, roasted, charred skin removed and sliced
Salt per preference
3-4 tbsps water
Extra EVOO, a few black beans, a sprig of coriander leaf and a dash cayenne pepper for prettying it up :)
1) Put everything into a food processor and blend. Blender doesn't work as well so please ensure you use a food processor.
2) Garnish with a dash of paprika and a swirl of olive oil. Drop a few black beans and center a sprig of coriander leaf. Serve warm.
This is one of the recipes I hae learnt recently in a shortcrust pastry baking course in June. Held over 5 days from 8-2pm, I learnt Apple Cranberry Pie, Flan Parisian, Tarte Normande, Tarte Bourdaloue and Quiche Lorraine... the latter two were the ones that brought me to my knees (with all that butter and cream!). I devoured with my family as soon as I brought them home.
Tarte Bourdaloue is a classic pear and almond tart and originates from Paris in 1906. I omitted the pears this time I didn't have any preserved pears at home. So what resulted was an Almond Cream Tart which is equally delicious. Don't be alarmed by the number of ingredients and steps. What results is a beautiful decadent tart which you can enjoy for days :)
I will make the classic Tarte Bourdaloue in one of the future blog posts.
Ingredients (yields a 8inch round tart)
200gm plain flour
100gm unsalted butter
2gm vanilla essence
Almond Cream Filling
60gm softened butter
60gm ground almond
10gm plain flour
2 gm vanilla essence
1 cup almond flakes/almond slivers
40gm Apricot glaze (for the shine - optional)
1) First and foremost, cut the butter into cubes, put them in a small bowl and place them in the freezer. I can't emphasize how important it is that the butter is ice cold. It can't be soft as then it would affect the pastry dough texture. It will not hold itself well and will crack easily in the later stages.So, please please make sure the butter is hard and frozen.
Sieve the plain flour, sugar and salt.. After sifting, put these ingredients into a mixing bowl.
2) Now, take out the hard cubes of butter from the freezer and place them into the mixing bowl with the flour mixture. Use a plastic scrapper for 5 mins to break the butter into the flour.
3) Working very quickly so that the dough still remains cold, use your finger tips to get a flaky dough texture like glass shards.
4) Mix the egg, ice water and vanilla essence in a another small bowl pour this mix into the butter dough.
5) Knead the entire mix quickly into a ball. Don't over knead.
6) Using your cleaned kitchen counter or a pastry mat, sprinkle a little flour (don't use too much flour - this will result in a hard dough) and crush the dough little by little using the heels of your palm. This is called fraisaging.
7) Continue fraisaging until all the dough is used up.
8) Again, working very quickly, join the fraisaged dough pieces into a round lump. then wrap in cling wrap. Keep it in a chiller for 20mins.
9) At this juncture, preheat the oven to 180 deg C. Start preparing the almond cream. Cream (beat with a wooden spoon) the softened butter by hand for a few minutes. Sieve the flour, ground almonds and sugar and then add this to the creamed butter. Cream again for another 2 mins. Mix the beaten egg and vanilla essence in a small bowl.. then add a little at a time (like 1/3 at a time). Mix well till well combined. Set aside in a cool place.
10) Take the chilled dough after 20 mins and roll it out on a slightly floured surface. It shouldn't be too thick and should be big enough to fit into a 8 inch tart ring or pan.
11) Butter the ring or a tart pan. Then place the rolled out flat dough into the ring gently and carefully. Smooth the dough into the ring and press along the edges. Trim off any extra dough using a rollling pin to go over the top of the ring. If there are holes or parts where the dough has been stretched out too thin, patch it up with small pieces of dough.
12) Pour in the almond cream and spread it out evenly.
13) Top with almond slivers/flakes.
14) If there is any extra dough and almond cream, make mini versions of this almond cream tart.
15) Pop the big tart and the mini ones into the oven for 25-35 mins till the top is golden brown. Remove from oven and let it cool down for 10mins. If you are using the apricot glaze, warm the glaze in a small pot till it reaches jam consistency. Then, brush over the tart. Enjoy delicious Almond Cream Tart!
Hi guys! I have shared my dishes here for you to cook for your own family with love and most importantly with their long term good health in mind.